Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County staff and volunteers, along with PetSmart trainer Megan Hamilton, pose Saturday at PetSmart with some of the kittens available for adoption through AWL. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County staff and volunteers, along with PetSmart trainer Megan Hamilton, pose Saturday at PetSmart with some of the kittens available for adoption through AWL. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County is at its maximum capacity, but volunteers and some of the cats, kittens and dogs from the shelter are at PetSmart until 2 p.m. today to get some of the furry friends adopted out.

“This is PetSmart Charities National Adoption Day, so we’re here at PetSmart in Warsaw. We’ve been running this for a week so adoption rates are reduced, kind of like to clear the shelter. We have about 93 cats on a waiting list to come into the shelter,” said AWL Executive Director Tonya Blanchard.

If the animal shelter can clear out some of the kittens and cats that it has with this adoption event, she said, they can get ninety-some cats back into the shelter, get them healthy, get them fixed, get them their shots and get them through the system.

Blanchard said, “We just have a waiting list of mobile home parks that have 30 to 40 cats. We have subdivisions that have cats that are just running and while they’re running they’re just multiplying.”

As an example, she said AWL had a dad cat, mom cat and four kittens surrendered to the shelter and the mom cat was already pregnant with the kittens being 3 months old.

“So the longer they’re out there, the more they’re reproducing. We need to get them in homes, we need to get them vaccinated, we need to get them spayed and neutered and off the street,” Blanchard stated. “So this is a great event to reduce the amount of cats that we have so we can bring more in because right now we’re at our max.”

There is a range to the maximum amount of pets the shelter can take in.

“In the shelter we can do about 95 cats and we’re even utilizing the cathouse right now even while it’s under construction,” she said. “The cathouse can not come fast enough for us.”

If anyone wants to adopt any of the kittens, cats or dogs at PetSmart today, Blanchard said they can adopt today and take them home today. It is an application process.

The kittens are $75, reduced from the normal cost of $95. She suggested people take two because they play together well, and the price on a second kitten will be reduced to $55.

All the dogs are reduced to $100. For some of the long-term dogs, adoption fees are down to $65.

“It’s just going to be a great event,” she said.

If anyone can’t make it to PetSmart by 2 p.m. today, the AWL will be opened today until 4 p.m. PetSmart Charities National Adoption Week ends Sunday.

“Give us a call. Come out and spend some time. We’re always looking for volunteers to help with the cats also. We’re always looking for foster homes for moms that are pregnant and due to have kittens. It’s a great experience for a family. You take a cat in, raise the kittens, socialize the kittens, they get to name the kittens. Bring them in for their shots and set them up for adoption,” Blanchard said.

Margie Dobler is fostering a mommy cat with seven kittens.

“I, pretty much, when one group gets adopted or goes up for adoption, I take home another set. And I usually do kittens and moms, but I’ve also done cats that have come in near starvation and then nursed them back to health, so I do both,” she said.

“I love animals. I work, I’m a teacher, so this is a way that I can help the shelter when I can’t be there during the day to help. This is a way I can help and I have a bedroom in my house that I turned into a foster room.”

Dobler said the foster cats are away from her own cats and have their own space so they can run around and not be in cages. She has neighborhood kids who come over to her house and play with the kittens, and then the kittens get adopted pretty quickly usually.

Her donation to the shelter is the cat litter and food that she provides to the animals that she fosters, though if the AWL has a need she also will donate financially to the shelter.

“Sometimes there are donations that come in that the fosters get, but, in general, you kind of take it on thinking, ‘OK, I’m going to cover the food and the litter.’ All the vet (expenses) are all covered though. We have some wonderful vets in the area that step up and help. That part you don’t have the expense, you just have the food and the litter and having some space for them. It gives me a chance to have kittens without the total responsibility because I then get to give them back,” Dobler said.

Megan Hamilton, trainer at PetSmart, said PetSmart always works with AWL to try to find the pets good homes.

“Obviously, this is the adoption drive this week, too, so we’re trying to find people who will donate items that are severely needed at the shelter, too,” Hamilton said. “We try to do this as a charity for them and it helps us out to get traffic in here, too.”

She said PetSmart does the National Adoption Week twice a year and the AWL comes in once a month, too, with adoptable dogs.

“We don’t carry dogs, obviously, here, The AWL will bring them in and we’ll do the adoption fair each month, but the big event is twice a year,” she said.

PetSmart offers basic obedience training, all the way up to therapy dog training. Most classes are six weeks and those are the core classes, Hamilton said. They do puppy and beginner, all the way through intermediate and advanced classes.

“This helps dogs with bonding with their pet parents and also skills that they need to be able to efficiently have proper manners in public as well,” she said.

Hamilton said today’s event is a good event that makes people aware of what’s going on in the community and the needs that the AWL has for their cats and dogs.

“It’s a nice event to be able to see people come in and find good homes for the dogs. I’ve really seen families come in after adopting a dog from AWL and it’s really cool to make sure that the dogs have good homes,” she said.

AWL volunteer Heather Lardino said volunteering with the animal shelter is one of the most fulfilling things a person can do.

“You don’t have to adopt, but it’s something that if you’re trying to figure out if you want a cat, if you want a dog, or if you just have the extra love to give, it definitely helps our community by socializing these animals, giving them love and preparing them for their forever home,” she said.

Lardino said she fosters animals so they’re not in a clinical setting.

“It’s really sad. They go from a home environment to a metal cage, and as much love as the staff can give, it’s not a home, so that’s why we foster,” she said.

PetSmart is at 640 W. 300N, Warsaw.

AWL is at 1048 S. 325E, Pierceton.

The website is at awlwarsaw.com, Facebook, Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County; twitter, @AWLwarsaw; Instagram, AWL_Warsaw.

Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and closed Sunday and Monday.